NKM

Women are still achieving “first” accomplishments, especially in the areas of business and politics. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet – better known as NKM – is preparing to enter the history books in Paris, France when she is presumably named the winner of the city’s mayoral race. If Morizet wins the race in March 2014, she will be the first woman mayor of Paris since the city was established 2,000 years ago.

The chances of her winning the race are remarkably high. Kosciusko-Morizet is the favorite to win the May 31 conservative primary and her presumed opponent will be Socialist Party candidate, Anne Hidalgo, who’s also a woman. The bid for mayor is heating up with the two women slinging shots over Paris’ tourism industry.

The Associated Press reports:

They have distinctly different visions of how Paris should serve its 2.3 million residents and the 29 million people who visit each year.

The race also includes other female candidates from smaller parties who are considered unlikely to win.

Kosciusko-Morizet has called for stores in the city’s main tourist districts to open on Sundays, saying that Paris is losing tour groups to London on the weekends because of requirements that shops close for a day. She also wants to crack down on the pickpockets who swarm the subways and major attractions such as the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.

“We have something to learn about hospitality,” she said.

Hidalgo counters that the French system works for its residents, saying that she doesn’t want Paris – which virtually shuts down on Sundays and in the evenings – to “look like Anglo-Saxon cities working 24 hours a day.”

Kosciusko-Morizet, 40, is an engineer with deep family roots in France’s political world – her grandfather was once ambassador to the United States and her father is mayor of a small town on the outskirts of the capital. She herself was mayor of the Paris suburb of Longjumeau until this year.

Kosciusko-Morizet also led the wide-ranging ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, where she was seen as a tech-savvy and ambitious star in the conservative UMP party. She was the spokeswoman for Sarkozy’s failed presidential re-election campaign last year and remains a deputy in the National Assembly.

In contrast, Hidalgo, deputy to Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who is retiring after 12 years in office, is more reticent in public. At a recent visit to a street market, she remained firmly surrounded by aides who handed out literature. She refused multiple requests for an interview with The Associated Press, and only rarely appears on television or comments in French newspapers.

Though the women differ on several issues, they also align on others including public housing and gay marriage.

This is a historic time for Paris. Gael Silman, a political analyst, sees both candidates as progressive picks for France.

“This situation – where most of the candidates are women – is unprecedented in France,” he told the Associated Press. The women “are quite young and vibrant, with a modern style – completely the opposite of the usual profile of the old, grizzled, lifeless politician. They totally fit the Parisian voters.”

The women will begin campaigning after the May 31 primary.

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  • Fifi-Gongon

    The race is actually still very open. I doubt that NKM has more chances to be elected than Anne Hidalgo. Voters are scattered in the 20 districts of Paris. The center of the town is composed of the richest districts, which is where NKM has her conservative base, while the socialist Anne Hidalgo has a lefty-hipster base in some of the other districts. None of them are really campaigning for the 18th, 19th, 20th districts where the population is the most colorful but belongs to the lower-class as well. Those women are the heiresses of policies, well-implanted systems before being two independent candidates. Moreover, their backgrounds are scrutinized, as Anne Hidalgo, daughter of Portuguese immigrants worked at the city hall for decades as the mayor’s deputy, NKM used to be a minister in the Sarkozy’s government, and has the perfect French aristocrat profile (good breeding, top-notch schools etc.), which is maybe why her seat in Longjumeau seemed to be nothing but a stepping-stone to a more privileged voting base. At the end of the day, none of them bring anything new to the table, subway pickpockets and Sunday-opening stores are relevant questions…for tourists (no offense meant). Parisians are, I believe, more concerned about the exorbitant rents, the buildings that are burning down because they are insalubrious and so on…As for gay marriage, on the voting day of this bill which has been supported by Christiane Taubira, a black French Lady who is the head of justice and who is known for having passed a law recognizing slavery as a crime against humanity before the French national assembly years ago (she is therefore used to big causes, since both of the bills passed painfully), Anne Hidalgo also member of the assembly voted yes, while NKM opted out by abstaining herself, in order not to go against her party’s majority decision, which is the no. The first gay marriage is celebrated today, May the 29th in Montpellier (south of France).

  • JaeBee

    This woman looks a little like Uma Thurman.